Proud to be British

Posted by: MetAnotherFrog Admin    Tags:  , ,     Posted date:  October 19, 2012  |  No comment




ELIZABETH ROSE

Rape is a weapon of war. We must confront it. – William Hague

In May of this year, Angelina Jolie was greeted in Whitehall by the Foreign Secretary William Hague as she offered Hollywood backing to the Government’s global campaign against sexual violence. I’m not a big Jolie fan – she’s a home wrecking weirdo in my own prejudiced eyes – but fair play. She spoke to an audience at the Foreign Office for an advance screening of her controversial new film In The Land Of Blood And Honey, which depicts the rape of Muslim and Croat women during the Bosnian War. It’s not a movie I’ve seen – and I don’t recall much fanfare or to-do about it back in May.

But what I really do appreciate is the fact that although Jolie has weirded off somewhere and is no longer around for cutesy photo ops, the focus and commitment of a senior MALE politician to end sexual violence has stuck true. So while most of the world sits with their eyes glued to Presidential debates about “failed politics,” analysing the body language of two men past their prime, I have been delightfully reminded of why I am proud to be British.

"proudly british"

Though our recent political features have included an awful lot about the Prime Minister’s feline companion, there is a quietly executed campaign lead by William Hague our Foreign Secretary. In June, Hague announced the set up of a team of experts devoted to the issue of preventing sexual violence. This team will have the skills and resources to enable it to be deployed into conflict areas in support of UN missions, or on a bilateral basis, to help gather evidence to support future prosecutions, and provide advice and support to reinforce local efforts. Drawing on the skills of doctors, lawyers, police, psychologists, forensic specialists and experts in the care and protection of victims and witnesses, the team will significantly strengthen the specialist capabilities that Britain is able to bring to bear on these issues.

Then last month, Hague announced to the UN that Britain will contribute £1 million this fiscal year to support the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Very definitely putting his money where his mouth is to ensure that the newly established team – set to be deployed for the first time later this year – has the funds necessary to support their work in eradicating what is generally considered just another “part of war”.

It’s often said it is more dangerous to be a woman than a solider in a war zone. This is due to the complete lack of consequences for the perpetrators, which leaves their victims with no hope of justice or end to the emotional turmoil. Although the figures are for obvious reasons unreliable, Margot Wallström, the UN special envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict, has noted that:

…there have been just 30 convictions in response to an estimated 50,000 rapes during the years of war” in the Balkans.

A notion that lends much weight to Hague’s statement that:

It is in the context of war and conflict that sexual violence is found to the most appalling degree, and on a scale most of us cannot imagine.”

Since this is really just talk about fighting back, until convictions come pouring in, it’s hard not to be cynical. After all seeking to punish those who violate women and abuse our rights in the most basic and primal of ways, on such a large scale, is a tall order. And with the apparent need to vote on women’s rights over on the other side of the Atlantic, it appears we women have yet to find a place in the world that is guaranteed. Guaranteed access to health care, to personal safety, to justice – if so required.

If you are reading this and thinking I’ve come back from a break on a feminist rant – you’d be right. But when you see the staggering numbers of women this problem has effected in the last century you will appreciate why:

I have a sense of pride that Great Britain has chosen to take a stand, and is aiming to use the 2013 presidency of the G8 to push this agenda. But I have a much greater sense of disappointment in mankind as a whole that this is needed in the first place.

And on a lighter note – let’s hope Todd Akin isn’t going to be one of the experts drafted into the “legitimate” task force.